The Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame Association
Dennis Byrd Inducted 2023 - Class of 1972
After Graduation from Woodward in 1972, Dennis Byrd attended the University of Toledo. He majored in Religion, Speech, Communication, and Broadcasting and was a Radio Announcer at UT’s Campus Radio station WERC. He went on to become the Christian Program Director at WYOU Radio in Danville, Illinois from 1977 to 1980.
Prior to that, in 1972 Dennis was called to the ministry and became a Licensed and Ordained Minister. He has ministered in Ohio, Illinois, and Georgia. Today he is a founder and senior pastor of Faithwalk Ministries Unlimited.
Born into a family that loved church and music, Dennis credits his father for teaching the entire family to harmonize while giving him the musical foundation that would lead him down his path in the industry. Dennis has been a composer for over five decades. His composition “Genesis’ is considered an award-winning Gospel classic and his catalog of work is multi-faceted and extensive
ranging from motivational songs, to recording projects and gospel stage plays.
At the age of 19, Dennis taught and directed his work, “He Saved a Wretch Undone” to the Gospel Music Workshop of America Convention Mass Choir. The piece was recorded by the choir’s live recording and produced by James Cleveland. On April 4,1989, Dennis and his wife Rosalyn, a 1975 Woodward High School grad, performed his composition “When Doctor King Came on the Scene” with the King Day Choir in Washington D.C. The Gospel Workshop of America honored Dennis with their “Unsung Hero Award” in 2010 for his songwriting and choir training skills.
Dennis has worked with colleges, high schools, elementary schools, and churches both teaching and producing music.
His love of music has led him to start his own record label The House of Byrd. His work as a record producer includes work with the Toledo Angelic Choir, The University of Toledo Gospel Choir, The New Home Church Choir of Toledo, Ohio, The Mount Zion Young Adult Choir, and the Greenforest Choir of Decatur, GA.
Currently, Dennis teaches at D.E.L.T.A. Steam Academy in Lithonia Springs, GA. as a Musical Theatre Teacher. There he has composed the school alma mater as well as numerous songs for productions, performances, and school pride.
Where did you attend grade school and junior high school? I attended Warren Elementary through first then Hamilton Elementary second through eighth grade.
In what neighborhood did you grow up while attending Woodward? I lived two blocks from Woodward High School in the Stickney neighborhood.
Who were your best friends while attending Woodward? My best friends at Woodward were Maurice Grant, Roosevelt Gant, Nelson Overton, and Issac Morgan.
Describe an important or humorous thing (s) that happened to you while at Woodward. Of the many amazing memories that I have of Woodward. I would like to mention these two: During my freshman year I was asked by Principal Ted Zelagowski and Assistant Principal Bob Geis to organize a choir that would perform during a special assembly celebrating Afro-American week. The choir sounded so amazing we were encouraged to stay together, thus giving birth to the Woodward High School Afro -American Gospel Choir. The choir proved to be a positive and unifying influence for the students. The choir traveled extensively performing in the states of Ohio, Michigan, and California. During my Junior year I was honored to be elected class president.
Who were your favorite teachers at Woodward and why? Two of my favorite teachers were Gordon Simpson and James Tate. I appreciated their ability to keep the class engaged
Did any Woodward staff members have a profound effect on you and why? Gordon Simpson had a profound impact on my music career. He helped me to discover and develop my gifts and skills as a singer, writer, and musician. He also appointed me as an Assistant Director of the Choraliers.
What are your favorite of memories of Woodward? One of my favorite memories is working with my colleagues who wanted live piano accompaniment for the yearly talent shows. Learning to play the music from various genres was both challenging and exciting.
Are You married? Please tell us about your family members. I have been happily married to a Polar Bear, Class of 1975, Rosalyn (Rowlett) Byrd. I am the father of five children. Charline, Dennis Jr., Daniel, Darnell (deceased) and Rochelle. We have eight beautiful grandchildren, Nicholas, Ciera, Delvin, Amya, Heavenly, Kailey, Kemit, and Kumani.
What are your hobbies? What do you do for fun?
Watching classic movies, capturing memorable family moments through videography, and listening to music.